It is often said that reading to your toddler is essential and if you do, by the age of 5 your child would have heard a million words or maybe more. But why should your child hear so many words by age of 5? What will happen if he or she learns a thousand or more words slowly after the age of 5? What is the hurry? Do you as an adult know or even hear a million words?
It is not the number of words your child has heard or learnt or can remember. It is the love for books that you inculcate in your child early on. Babies are naturally curious, wanting to absorb every little new thing that comes their way. Obviously they will not remember every single thing they see or every single word you say or read unless it is repeated several times. Repetition enables them to register and even try using it. It can be a new word, a new habit or new step in their development stages. But repetition is the key.
Reading a book as a habit forms early, when the child is read to every single day. Even easier if there is a particular time of the day when this beautiful activity happens. It could be on the meal chair or a bedtime story or just a cuddle time with a parent or a grandparent. That time of the day must be associated with love and when done repeatedly, settling with an interesting book brings about positive association with reading itself. As time goes by, printed words are not daunting. They are as familiar as so many things around the house. Hence later when it is time to go to school, and when words keep popping up all over the place, they are not daunting at all. Many words would sound familiar as the child would have heard them over and over again. Learning to read phase transition takes place more smoothly and reading continues to be a pleasurable activity.
That time of the day must be associated with love and when done repeatedly, settling with an interesting book brings about positive association with reading itself.
Sans repetition, books are not familiar objects and even more so new words. There is no positive association with the activity and hence when it is suddenly thrust upon in school, many children who are not read to every day develop a severe dislike to reading.
Are you a parent who loves books and has been trying to raise a reader? Would you like to share your experiences for the benefit of other parents? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org